It’s become crystal clear this season the Dallas Cowboys running game is being set up by a successful passing attack – not the other way around.
Times are a changin’ ‘round these parts. It seems like only yesterday the Dallas Cowboys were a run-heavy team who relied on “establishing” the run in order to set up an opportunistic passing attack. It’s this long held belief that’s devalued the Dallas Cowboys current signal caller virtually every day of his professional career and likely a contributor to the fact that same QB remains unsigned beyond the 2019 season.
While the numbers say the run-to-set-up-the-pass theory hasn’t been the case for quite a while, commonly held beliefs aren’t so easy to vanquish. They require added scientific proof like “the eye test” and general “feelings” in order to disprove people’s often uninformed yet consistently stubborn “priors” regarding running and passing.
Well, this season, those analytic laggards are getting their proof. The Dallas Cowboys have quite clearly become a passing team (despite every effort from the coaching staff to do otherwise) and while Dak Prescott has never looked better, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game have never looked worse.
Dak’s critics have long claimed it’s the threat of Zeke that allows Dak to succeed. They’ve stated teams are stacking the box to stop the run and daring Dak to beat them through the air.
Dak has only seen eight man boxes 20 times this season (5.3 percent). As you may expect that’s well below league average.
While this began to change last season, it has completely flipped on its head this season. According to FiveThirtyEight, Dak has only seen eight man boxes 20 times this season (5.3 percent). As you may expect that’s well below league average.
Teams are aggressively trying to stop Dak yet Dak is still carving up the opposition. The reigning NFC offensive player of the week is piling up the passing yards and boasts a league best 8.9 adjusted yards per pass attempt.
Zeke has been struggling to break tackles, elude would be tacklers, and even follow blocks. Granted, the O-line needs to play better, but on individual execution, Zeke’s not performing like an upper-tier running back and teams are treating him accordingly.
That doesn’t mean the running game is failing, though. Zeke is still getting his volume stats and despite the overwhelming evidence to do otherwise, the Dallas Cowboys are still leaning heavily on the running game on first down. Sadly, he’s only logging a 50% success rate (per Sharp football stats) on being a “successful” run. So Zeke’s still getting his, even if he’s not very effective.
Because of this, Dak starts most drives in hole on second down and earns his money gathering big yards on 2nd and long and by leading the NFL in 3rd down conversation percentage.
The king is dead. The run does not set up the pass in Dallas these days. The pass now sets up the run. Long live the king!
Dak Prescott has been the undisputed driving force of this Dallas Cowboys offense and it’s him helping Zeke, not the other way around.
- Published on 11/21/2019 at 17:01 PM
- Last updated at 11/22/2019 at 08:14 AM